Glad to see I wasn’t the only one with a “Say what?” reaction to the “news” story with the cutesy headline “Meth-cooking 101” that appeared in the Denver Post over the weekend.
Nope, it didn’t take long for Westword‘s Alan Prendergast to post an amusing riff about the Post‘s strange and outdated report – albeit with a “cheery” header – about how darn easy it is to cook up a batch of meth, including a jab at the type of “new” (not) information in the Post story: “Gosh darn! the recipes are on the Internet!” But at least the Post account didn’t go so far as to print a recipe for meth, or claim, for example, that meth gives you “superhuman strength” – as did a jaw-dropper of a story that appeared a little over a year ago in The New Times: San Luis Obispo County’s News and Entertainment Weekly (no relation to the New Times altweekly chain that owns Westword).
The The New Times: San Luis Obispo story, “Meth Made Easy,” proved to be an insta-classic, as far as disasters in journalism go. Presented in several short pieces, the package included such features as the aforementioned recipe, as well as a Q&A called “Your Neighbor the Meth Head” with a regular guy who happens to use meth, and “Meth Fun Facts.”
Another feature, “What You Can Expect from Your Homemade Meth,” included this promo: “Focus and concentration like you’ve never had. Rebuild your car’s engine, clean your home from top to bottom, pay all your bills and completely reorganize your household filing system, add every person you know to your e-mail address book – the possibilities are limitless!”
The package sparked threats of boycott of the California altweekly, an “apology” from its editor, Jim Mullin (his attempts to further justify the story rang hollow; he resigned shortly thereafter).
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential, and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org